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An Unnatural History: Hedley Twidle Reviews Henrietta Rose-Innes' Green Lion

The rebirth of a Bok legend

IT IS a career trajectory that would work in almost any profession. Start off with a full-time job where you can gain skills, experience and contacts.

And, important, become familiar with the ecosystem in your particular field. Then, when you tire of having your prospects determined by the whims of a boss, you develop your own vision for your career and set about making it happen.

In rugby, the process starts earlier and is more compressed.

Take Fourie du Preez, for instance. He was recruited by Heyneke Meyer while still at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool and joined the Bulls as a contracted player as soon as he had matriculated.

Du Preez was a founding member of the killer squad, handpicked and moulded by Meyer, which went on to win the Currie Cup for three consecutive years and, in 2007, became the first South African team to bring home the Super Rugby trophy. Later that year, the same Bulls core helped the Springboks to their second Rugby World Cup victory under Jake White.

Two years later, Du Preez was key to one of the best ever years for a Springbok team. In 2009, they first beat the British and Irish Lions and, then the All Blacks. Not once but three times.

But, after a long golden run in terms of injuries, Du Preez finally succumbed. In 2010, he had surgery for a shoulder injury, followed by six months of rehab.

No sooner was he back on the field in 2011 than he injured his knee in a Super Rugby game.

And then, of course, he was part of the Springbok team which was ejected so ignominiously from the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Despite the fact that he was only 30 and widely considered the best scrumhalf in the world, Du Preez turned his back on international rugby and settled for the relative obscurity of Japanese club rugby.

It was a bold move for a man who had never lived anywhere but Pretoria. But he was burnt out from the emotional and physical toll of having played 80 minutes in a pivotal position of almost every Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Springbok game for 10 years.

If it wasn’t for Japan, he says, he might have stopped playing rugby altogether after the 2011 World Cup.

Not only has his stint at Suntory Goliath taught him a new approach to the game, being immersed in a foreign culture has revitalised him.

Simple things, such as using public transport to get to training, delight him, as does the equilibrium he has managed to achieve between work and family.

Most of his teammates at Suntory Goliath have other jobs at the company so rugby is confined to half the day. Du Preez says he has learnt from this that it is entirely possible to balance professional rugby with study and family.

These days many players are taking a more entrepreneurial approach to their careers. They mix and match clubs and countries: they play Super Rugby but eschew Currie Cup, opting instead to spend the South African summer playing in Europe or Japan.

This means they are available for selection for some Springbok games.

Where Du Preez has broken the mould is that he won’t even play Super Rugby. He told me that one of his chief reasons for leaving SA was Super Rugby, with its punishing toll on players’ bodies and the endless travel. For most players, this would be a risky move — after all, Super Rugby is the parade ground where players hope to catch the eye of the Springbok coach. But Du Preez is experienced and confident enough to know he can get away with it and still make it into the Bok squad. In fact, judging by the injury list at the Springbok camp a few weeks ago, it is a wise move.

Anyone playing Super Rugby now could break down with a long term injury which could rule them out of the World Cup.

Luck is on his side in that no one has emerged to seriously challenge him for the scrumhalf berth. Even if there had, it is unlikely Meyer would have gone to the UK without one of his most trusted proteges.

The Japanese season runs from September to the end of February. Du Preez told me that, since 2013, he has been returning to SA for our winter months and following his own training and conditioning routine.

He has been doing rehab for an ankle injury and cross-training in a private gym three times a week. Soon his routine will include speed training and contact fitness and possibly a few games with the Bulls’ under-21s.

His regimen was worked out by specialists in Japan. He makes it clear that he has moved on from what he learnt at the Bulls. Du Preez is honing and refining his game. With the new nimbleness in his approach to life, we can expect Du Preez to add a layer of sophistication to the Springbok game.

Because there is no doubt that this is where he is headed. Heyneke Meyer has made it clear Du Preez is part of his plans for the World Cup. He will be integrated into the squad during the Rugby Championships and hopefully be at peak game fitness during the key World Cup games.

Unlike most of the rest of the team, who will be worn out by months of Super Rugby, Du Preez will be fresh and fit.

*This column first appeared in Business Day


Don't Miss the Launch of the Green Lion by Henrietta Rose-Innes at Love Books

Green LionUmuzi and Love Books would like to invite you to the launch of Green Lion by Henrietta Rose-Innes.

Rose-Innes will be speaking about her latest novel and what she hopes readers will take away from it.

The launch will be at 6 for 6:30 PM on Wednesday, 27 May, at Love Books in Melville.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 27 May 2015
  • Time: 6 for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Melville | Map
  • RSVP:, 011 726 7408

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What is Voicemap? Find Out at Their Second Location-aware Storytelling Workshop in Cape Town

VoiceMap, a publishing tool and distribution platform for location-aware audio, is hosting its second location-aware storytelling workshop this weekend in Cape Town.

With VoiceMap, a new and immersive way of telling stories, you can do a walking tour of any area in South Africa, with the voices of local people guiding your steps and telling you about their shared history of the place. At the same time you can also record your own story to be shared with the next person eager to explore the world through your eyes.

The location-aware storytelling workshop will take place on Saturday, 23 May, at the Cape Town Garage in Woodstock and will run from 2 to 5:30 PM. Come and learn how to create stories about the places you’ve been using the locally-developed GPS audio guide app.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 23 May 2015
  • Time: 2 to 5:30 PM
  • Venue: Cape Town Garage
    Woodstock Exchange, 4th Floor
    66 Albert Rd
    Cape Town | Map
  • RSVP: Eventbrite


What is VoiceMap?

For a free tutorial visit the VoiceMap website, follow VoiceMap on Facebook or have a look at the infographic below:

Press Release

What would it be like to see Bo-Kaap through the eyes of a woman whose family has lived there for over a century? To wander past a cluster of banana trees, only to discover that she planted them herself, or to climb down the same steep, cobbled hill that she screeched down on her bicycle as a girl? A locally-developed GPS audio guide app, VoiceMap, allows you to listen to personal memories and stories about particular places while you walk. That’s one side of it. The other side is sharing your own stories, and inviting people to glimpse your view of the world – for an hour or so, at least.

The company’s open publishing platform allows anyone to create an audio walking tour in their neighbourhood or city, and to earn royalties every time it’s downloaded via VoiceMap’s Android and iOS apps. The simple process begins with plotting a route using the familiar interface of Google Maps, which is built into their online publishing tool. VoiceMap then assigns each storyteller an editor who provides assistance with writing an audio script. The final stage is recording it.

“VoiceMap’s location-aware audio is accurate to between five and 15 metres, making it easy to point out a mural or monument just as it comes into view,” co-founder, Iain Manley, says. “It also creates a very immersive and intimate experience for your audience.”

VoiceMap has published routes in approximately 40 cities around the world, but so far the Mother City is leading the way with 21 audio walking tours in Cape Town. The collection of walks is as varied as the storytellers who created them. There’s a stroll along Mouille Point’s promenade by sailor, surfer and acclaimed author, Justin Fox (author of The Impossible Five, Whoever Fears the Sea and With Both Hands Waving, among others) a pilgrimage back to the roots of slavery by a genealogist with Asian lineage, and two equally charming meanders through Muizenberg by local residents, to name a few. Johannesburg has been a little slower to catch on, with just one walking tour so far, which explores Newtown’s graffiti and heritage. Who knows which personal incarnation of Durban or Bloemfontein will be the frontrunner in VoiceMap’s app?


Join Sarah Waters and Christopher Hope for Dinner at The Local Grill in Johannesburg

Sarah Waters and Christopher Hope

The Paying GuestsJimfishJenny & Co will be hosting Sarah Waters and Christopher Hope for a fabulous dinner at The Local Grill.

Waters, author of The Paying Guests, and Hope, who wrote Jimfish, are both international authors who were at the Franschhoek Literary Festival last weekend.

The event costs R325 per person, and includes dinner, wine and the opportunity to meet two bestselling authors.

Don’t miss out!

Event Details

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Join Anthea Jeffery and the Cape Town Press Club for a Discussion of BEE: Helping or Hurting?

BEE: Helping or Hurting?Cape Town Press Club, 6 Spin Street Restaurant and NB Publishers would like to invite you to a presentation by Anthea Jeffery, author of BEE: Helping or Hurting?

The event takes place on Tuesday, 26 May and starts at 12:30 for 1 PM. The author and political commentator will do a presentation and take questions, after which lunch will be served. Tickets cost R150 for members and R200 for guests.

In BEE: Helping or Hurting? Jeffery offers the first comprehensive review of Black Economic Empowerment policies since 1994, addressing challenging policy questions about the “pros and cons” of BEE that most commentators avoid and pointing out the true costs of race quotas.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 26 May 2015
  • Time: 12:30 PM for 1:00 PM
  • Venue: Cape Town Press Club,
    6 Spin Street Restaurant
    6 Spin Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Refreshments: Lunch and wine
  • Cover charge: R150 for members, R200 for public
  • RSVP: Gloria,, 021 683 3990

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Don't Miss Francois Ferreira at the Cape Town Good Food and Wine Show

Cupboard CuisineKoskaskosAre you attending the Cape Town edition of the Good Food and Wine Show this weekend? Then don’t miss the opportunity to meet and see Francois Ferreira in action!

His latest publication, Cupboard Cuisine, not only dispenses invaluable advice about vital herbs, spices and food items that need to be in your food cupboard, but the recipes use these in innovative ways, allowing everyday ingredients and dishes to be transformed into extra-ordinary cuisine.

Cupboard Cuisine, available in Afrikaans as Koskaskos, also includes fundamentals and tips about combining flavours so that ordinary ingredients are turned into winning fare guaranteed to have family and guests asking for a second helping.

Ferreira will be at the Celebrity Chef Theatre tonight along with students from the Francois Ferreira Academy at 7:15 PM tonight to do a special presentation.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

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